In what was clearly a racially motivated hate crime Dylann Roof confessed to the shootings at a meeting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He told police that he wanted to start a race war. He's been booked for 9 counts of pre-meditated murder and one weapons charge.

Obviously this kid is simply a whack job prone to violence. And while the flag itself obviously didn't kill anyone IT IS the preferred flag of racists everywhere (along with the swastika) and the main reason the Confederacy formed was to secede from the United States because they depended on slave labor to pick crops and opposed President Lincoln's platform which opposed the expansion of slavery.

So knowing that IT IS a symbol of institutional slavery, it creates an atmosphere where racists feel somewhat justified in their redneck views on the world... kind of like 1950's residue, a decade in which a large sector of white society, particularly in the south, turned their backs to violence against blacks. If someone grows up in a state where there is a tacit approval and strong undercurrent of racism (and they've got a screw loose) they're much more likely to commit an act like this. The guy probably even thought he'd be a folk hero in some quarters.